The VCT EMEA Stage 1 Challengers playoffs are finally poised to commence after six weeks of group stage matches. Six teams proceed to the tournament's final round, where they will compete for one of three slots at Stage 1 Masters Reykjavik.
After going unbeaten with a perfect 5-0 record in the VCT EMEA Stage 1 Challengers group stage, European squad Fnatic secured the top seed in Group A. The squad has improved significantly after the acquisition of Andrey "BraveAF" Gorchakov, and they will hope to make their second Masters Reykjavík appearance in April.
FunPlus Phoenix also had a strong run, going 4-1 with victory against Team Liquid and Natus Vincere despite missing in-game commander Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow for much of the group stage. This puts them neck and neck with the previous Gambit Esports squad, who are currently competing under the neutral M3 Champions banner.
Team Liquid, G2 Esports, and Guild Esports finish the playoffs with head to head 3-2 records.
VCT Stage 1 2022 - Challengers EMEA Playoffs Format, Schedule, Participants & betting odds
- 6 teams in a Double-Elimination bracket
- All matches (excl. Lower Bracket Final and Grand Final) are Bo3
- Lower Bracket Final and Grand Final are Bo5
- Top 3 teams qualify for Stage 1 Masters
VCT Challengers Stage 1: Playoff teams
As the curtains fall on an intense group stage, these are the six teams who will be battling it out for a spot at Masters: Reykjavík:
- FunPlus Phoenix
- M3 Champions –Ex Gambit roster will attend the competition independently because of the Russo-Ukrainian Crisis–
- Team Liquid
- G2 Esports
Playoffs schedule & betting odds
You can click on the dates to take yourself directly to the detailed match page. Teams that are highlighted in bold have the odds in favour.
Upper Bracket Round 1
- M3C M3 Champions vs. Guild Esports GLD (March 22, 2022 - 18:00 UTC+3) 1.22 vs. 4.00
- G2 G2 Esports vs. Team Liquid TL (March 22, 2022 - 21:00 UTC+3) 2.20 vs. 1.62
Upper Bracket Round 2
- FNC Fnatic vs. TBD (March 23, 2022 - 18:00 UTC+3)
- FPX FunPlus Phoenix vs. TBD (March 23, 2022 - 21:00 UTC+3)
Recap & Analysis
Group A: Ex Gambit team dominates
The CIS squad, ex Gambit roster M3 Champions, dominated Week 6. The combined force of Ayaz 'nAts' Akhmetshin and Timofey 'Chronicle' Khromov won the team's postseason position in style, defeating BIG, NAVI, and LDN UTD without dropping a single game.
In a back-and-forth sequence of games, FPX also defeated NAVI. While Kamil 'baddyG' Graniczka replacing Kirill 'ANGE1' Karasiow on the roster was a source of worry, they went away with a convincing 2 - 1 victory and a crack at the title.
Group B: Fnatic runs the gauntlet
While there was only one Group B matchup in Week 6, it was probably the most anticipated of the week: GUILD vs. Fnatic.
The lads in black and orange didn't get off to a good start, as GUILD easily defeated the British heavyweights on Haven. However, in classic Fnatic fashion, the reverse sweep over Bind and Split was unleashed, partly thanks to Nikita 'Derke' Sirmitev.
Pulling off spectacular Raze plays and kicking off the celebration, the series' MVP rallied the team back from the verge of elimination, delivering them a playoff position and a flawless 5 - 0 run.